October 8, 2012 by anelim
So, I bought a bike. I had gone out for a walk that afternoon, wearing the wrong shoes. I had got as far as a park beyond the river, lounged on the grass for half an hour listening to a bunch of dudes play the guitar and sing, and when I rose to walk further, I realised that my feet flatly refused to wear the uncomfortable flats any longer. I forced myself to walk in them for a bit, and tried to find the way home, but it was about 3km away. I found the nearest S-Bahn station. As I was staring at the German-speaking ticket-machine, annoyed and in pain, some homeless dudes managed to sell me a second-hand U-bahn ticket for 1 Euro which they said was still valid (the ticket, not the Euro). I went up to the line and found a transport map on the wall, but it turned out that I would have to travel for 3 stops and change twice to get home: it was a very near, but very inconveniently located S-Bahn station. And I didn’t quite understand the rules written on the ticket – as usual, I seemed to be able to translate each word separately, but they didn’t add up to anything unambiguously meaningful. So I didn’t risk travelling on that ticket and instead walked out (neglecting the homeless dudes who stared at me in disbelief and possibly hoping to buy my unused ticket back).
You might wonder what the shoe drama had to do with buying a bike. It didn’t, but the fact that I was walking slowly had everything to do with it. But before that I had to cross a railway bridge (which was so grimy I felt obliged to wear the shoes again) and eventually resort to buying some cheap sandals from Rossman (that great German household shop that has everything for quite little money). And then, as I was walking slowly trying not to lose the flip-flops from my feet, I saw the bike. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the black beauty casually parked in front of a pawn shop. The purchase itself was a minor financial miracle. The almost new Hollander-style bike cost me a mere €80. Even just the chain for it cost €26! The only thing I was worried about was that some poor Berliner might have had their bike stolen, but the shop assistant checked the bike number online and it seemed to be OK… there is no way for me to find out for certain, anyway, so I’m trying to pacify my conscience. It was a stroke of luck. I didn’t have so much money on me, so I left a deposit and promised to come back for the bike the next morning. Spending my last euros on a bike was so exciting I didn’t mind eating bread, cheese, and cheap German chocolate for the rest of the week 😀